Vietnamese cyclists are ready for the 31st SEA Games. — Photo thanhnien.vn
By Thanh Nga
The Vietnamese cycling team is ready for the upcoming 31st Southeast Asian (SEA) Games and has set a target of winning five gold medals.
“We have the best cyclists for the SEA Games. We have enough time for the riders to get acquainted with the terrain of the competition venue, the northern mountainous province of Hòa Bình," said Nguyễn Ngọc Vũ, head of the cycling section of the National Administration for Sports.
"These races have the quality, difficulty and standards of international competition. At present, everyone is determined for the tournament at home."
At the 22nd SEA Games in Việt Nam in 2003, the cycling team brought home three gold medals, the best ever performance by Vietnamese cyclists at a regional Games.
After 19 years, the Vietnamese cycling team aims for an even more significant milestone, five gold medals.
Việt Nam have high-class and experienced cyclists who are in good form. Besides Nguyễn Thị Thật and Đinh Thị Như Quỳnh who won the SEA Games gold medals in the Philippines, Việt Nam team have qualified cyclists such as Nguyễn Thị Thu Mai, Bùi Thị Quỳnh, Nguyễn Thị Thi and Nguyễn Thị Kim Cương (road cycling), Cà Thị Thơm (mountain biking) as well as other outstanding male cyclists such as Trần Tuấn Kiệt, Quàng Văn Cường, Nguyễn Hoàng Sang, Phan Hoàng Thái, and Nguyễn Trường Tài.
The Vietnamese cycling team will attend the 31st Games with 39 members, including 16 road cycling athletes and 14 mountain biking athletes, competing for 12 medals. Mountain biking will take place on May 14-17, while road cycling will be held on May 19-22.
On Tuesday, the men's and women's road cycling teams gathered in Hòa Bình to prepare for the Games. Earlier, the mountain bike groups practised in the province to get used to the climate and the track.
In the mountain categories, Quỳnh and Thơm aim to successfully defend both gold and silver medals in the women's cross country. In addition, Quàng Thị Soan is expected to compete for the gold medal in the women's downhill division.
“The advantage of the mountain biking team is that they have been practising and getting used to the track in Hòa Bình. They have good skills and know each bend and slope, so they are expected to make surprises against strong rivals from Thailand and Indonesia," Vũ said.
The 31st SEA Games organising committee came to Hòa Bình Province to encourage the Vietnamese cyclists. — VNA/VNS Photo Thanh Hải
In road cycling, Vietnamese cyclists are also expected to surprise their opponents.
"The men's road cycling team comes to the 31st Games to try its best to bring the best results for the country's sports," coach Nguyễn Huy Hùng said.
Cyclist Thái said: "From now until the Games, we will maintain two meetings a week in addition to training. This is an opportunity for the whole team to discuss and draw lessons for the whole team at the Games."
According to the gold medal hope Cường, Vietnamese road cyclists are at an advantage as the Games are held at home, so they have conditions to train well and get used to the climate at the competition site earlier. Being familiar with the tracks will help athletes compete at a higher level.
In addition to Cường, Kiệt is also considered a gold medal hope, and the coaching staff have planned special support for these two cyclists.
"My teammates and I have to support Cường and Kiệt to complete the goal of winning medals in the road cycling event," Huỳnh Thanh Tùng said.
Veteran Nguyễn Hoàng Sang must pass experience in nutrition during training and competition for athletes to have the best form.
To prepare for the Games, the men's road cycling team competed impressively at the recent National Cycling Tournament, the HCM City Television Cup.
Sang finished fifth in the overall rankings after four foreign cyclists. Cường took the lead in the race around Hoàn Kiếm Lake, and Kiệt finished first in four stages.
Meanwhile, the women's road cycling team competed at the 2022 Asian Road Cycling Championship held in Tajikistan in March, with Thật winning a gold medal.
The lead female cyclist of Việt Nam’s road cycling team said that she had the best preparation and a comfortable mentality for the regional event.
Nguyễn Thị Thật is expected to take the gold medal at the 31st SEA Games. — Photo vov.vn
To encourage cyclists, the Việt Nam Bicycle & Motor Sports Federation said that it would give worthy rewards to athletes winning 31st SEA Games medals.
There are eight countries registered to participate in cycling in the Games, with 260 athletes and coaches. There will be seven international referees, 58 members of the organising board, and national referees to manage the cycling.
The race tracks in Hòa Bình have been completed, and the locality will soon complete the auxiliary items to be ready to be put into operation at the Games. VNS